Grocery shopping, at its best, should be a quick and efficient means of securing your necessary food items for the week. Unfortunately, it can sometimes turn into a health and wallet nightmare! What typically starts as good intentions can lead to buying food that you don’t need, is too expensive and is unhealthy.
Grocery stores don’t have to be scary, you just need to have a plan (and be aware of the food marketing traps!)
As a marketer by trade, I get what the grocery stores are trying to accomplish. More sales. As a Certified Health Coach, it is my duty to warn you of these less than stellar tactics.
5 Grocery Store Pitfalls to Avoid:
- Don’t Believe Everything You Read: Food marketers are geniuses at beautiful packaging and making health claims you want to hear. For example, a package that says “no trans fats” may not actually be true. Did you know that products labeled this can still legally have up to .5 grams of trans fats per serving? Have multiple servings at a time and you are consuming a lot of this health-damaging fat.
TIP: Read labels. If it lists “hydrogenated” anywhere in the ingredient list it contains trans fats.
2. Don’t Shop on an Empty Stomach: Ever go into a food store starving? You’ve probably noticed your cart quickly become filled with items that were not on your list and items you usually never buy. You probably bulked up on a lot of unhealthy options too as everything just looks so good! Although your intentions may be to pick up one or two items, the more likely case is you’ll spend way too much money on unhealthy choices.
TIP: Don’t succumb to temptation. Make an effort to not stop in the grocery store while hungry.
3. Watch Product Placement: You’ve probably heard by now to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, as these are where your good choices lie. The inner aisles are the perfect place for food marketers to align their product to eye level, to entice you and your children to pick the pretty packaging. Food companies actually pay more for this prime real estate on the shelves.
TIP: When shopping the inner aisles, take the time to look at ALL shelves, from top to bottom, to compare prices and quality. Lots of small, local companies will have their items placed on the less than desirable shelving space at the top.
4. Ignore the End Caps: For the most part the end caps are filled with product that are either super pricey, about to expire or is seasonal. Consumer behavior often leads to grabbing one of these items while in line without giving much thought to them.
TIP: Look at the price, and look at the expiration. If you are happy with both feel free to add to your cart. Otherwise ignore the impulse buy.
5. Specials Aren’t Always What They Seem: Like in the case of the end caps specials are usually with items that are overstocked or may be expiring soon. Often times there is a “buy one get one half off” but if it is an item you wouldn’t typically buy is it worth it?
TIP: Make a list and stick to it. Period. Planning out your meals for the week can be a huge help.
Need some help planning out your menus for the week? Check out my Nourishing Seasonal Menus here.
What are some grocery store tips that have been helpful for you?